Photography Tips: How To Properly Set Up Your Camera For Outdoor Shoot

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Have you experienced taking a shot of a beautiful sunset only to find out it’s not as ‘perfect’ upon looking at the image taken by your camera?  Although most cameras have a decently reliable ‘automatic mode,’ many photos tend to have undesirable results with this mode. Therefore, here are three photography tips to help you properly set up your camera for outdoor shoots:

young woman shooting with camera at morning.Tripod and mirrorless camera.
  1. Know The Terms

Cameras are intuitive devices that help photographers capture many subjects, ranging from scenic views to beautiful models shot in outdoor environments. But, these gadgets aren’t magical machines. Ergo, don’t expect them to produce jaw-dropping images every time you press the shutter button if you’re still using the ‘automatic mode.’

It’s best to get yourself acquainted with the terms used in photography to help you set the camera’s settings to your desired vibe. Some of the terms you should know are:

  • Exposure: The amount of light that reaches the camera’s sensor or film
  • Aperture: The lens’s opening in which the light passes through before it reaches the sensor
  • Shutter speed: The length of time (measured in seconds or fractions of a second) in which the shutter stays open for light to pass through the lens
  • ISO sensitivity: The camera’s ability to capture light

These terms have their corresponding figures attached to them. For example, if you want to shoot a subject at noon when the sun is high in the sky, you might prefer to shoot at 100 ISO, 1/4000s shutter speed, f/16 aperture, and a -1 exposure compensation. With these settings, you may get a decent image from your camera. 

Bring a cheat sheet for manual photography at the location if you find yourself getting confused by these terms and numbers. That way, you won’t have to make random guesses, and waste valuable time.

Wild life professional photographer
  1. Research Before the Shoot

Setting up your camera for an outdoor shoot takes careful preparation for the activity. Hence, it’s best to prepare for the photoshoot days before the event. 

Start preparing the settings by looking at the weather forecast for the location on the day of the shoot. For instance, weather predictions state that there’s going to be an overcast on your preferred shooting location. 

Aside from checking the weather, it’s also not a bad idea to gain extra knowledge for the upcoming shoot. You can watch beauty documentaries to help your human model pose at the outdoor location. Consequently, you may study the right settings to use in shooting a scenic view of a sunrise from a mountaintop. Researching helps prevent unnecessary mistakes o-site. You can, then, save valuable time and effort, which should give you more time to interact with your subjects or head home to edit the captured images. 

  1. Use The Flash

Many photographers believe that the built-in pop-up flash of most cameras are quite useless. It’s because using the built-in flash to light subjects tends to produce photographs with washed-out colors or overexposed highlights. However, you can still use the flash on outdoor shoots, albeit you might consider not using the built-in flash on your camera. Instead, it might be better to use an external flash for the photoshoot. 

This peripheral gives you better control of the lighting for your outdoor photoshoot location than using the pop-up flash. For example, you may place the external flash to the side of your subject to create a dramatic look. 

Still, you might wonder, why would you need to use a flash if the sun’s out. Many think that flash photography is only for indoor shoots. But, you can make interesting and even eye-popping images when you combine natural and artificial light. 

One example is to use an external flash with a variable neutral density (ND) filter attached to your camera’s lens. The filter reduces incoming sunlight, but the flash will still properly illuminate your main subject. The resulting image should have your subject illuminated properly, while still giving an aesthetic glimpse of the sun in the background.  

You might find using the flash outdoors as an intimidating procedure. But, you may experience different artificial light positions to give your photographs different effects. You may also add more flashes to the scene to help illuminate your subject, which might become an excellent idea for outdoor night photography sessions.


Understand the terms used in photography, research about the location, and use an external flash if necessary. These three tips may help you set up your camera for different outdoor shoots. Finally, don’t forget to practice; practicing outdoor photography will help you familiarize yourself with the settings you need to use for various outdoor photoshoots. 

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